2014 Forty Under 40: Ben Carlson

Lou Harry
February 1, 2014
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carlson_ben_1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Starting with a tweet: Carlson was working on a Microsoft video that trended on Twitter. “I wanted to try to understand, quantitatively, how big it was,” he said. “Did it move the needle for perception of the property?” Finding no good way to converge all of that social conversation into data, he and creative partner Jen Handley created one. “We cooked up a way to measure the social conversation, quantifying volume and sentiment, identifying patterns, and converting that data into stuff that means something.”

Split screens: He shared his thinking with the partners at Broad Ripple-based ad agency Bradley and Montgomery, where Carlson continues to work as chief strategy officer. “They thought it worthwhile enough to help launch it and spin it out as its own company in 2009. I consider myself lucky. I have two jobs that I’m madly in love with.”

Focus: Fizziology tracks every major movie release and sells the data it compiles and analyzes to interested parties, including Universal, Disney and Paramount. While hush-hush about specifics, Carlson said Fizziology was involved with about 40 percent of 2013 studio releases.

AGE 39
Hometown: Carmel

Family: wife, Jessica; children Ella, 10, and Spencer, 8

A Hoosier in Hollywood: Carlson distinctly remembers his first knee-knocking experience entering talent agency CAA—with its “Death-Star-like glass building, and the most beautiful people you can imagine as receptionists.” He said there have been a couple of “what you would imagine a crazy Hollywood meeting would be, but the vast majority of them are incredibly down-to-earth, business-minded conversations with people trying to do a job. It just happens to be in the world of entertainment, which is a lot sexier than selling insurance.”

Spoiler alert: “I love movies,” Carlson said. “But the way I watch them now is completely different from the way I used to. By the time a movie is in theaters, I’ve been thinking about it for years. It’s a little anticlimactic.”

Advice: “You can do what you want to do as long as you put in the time and find the right people to do it with. No one is going to ask you to do it and there’s nobody to ask permission to do it.”•


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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.